Novak Djokovic’s first-round win over Jack Draper at Wimbledon on Monday was fairly straightforward but there was one concern for the world number one, according to Mats Wilander. Djokovic took some time to adapt to the grass court and slipped over several times on the lush surface as Draper started well.
The 19-year-old British wildcard did not look overawed by the occasion and took the first set 6-4 after defending seven break points from the Serb.
Draper was making his senior debut at the All England Club but his strong serve and ground strokes saw him keep pace with the 19-time Grand Slam champion early on.
Djokovic picked up his game and found his form to win comfortably 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 in the end and will play South Africa’s Kevin Anderson in the second round.
Having won the Australian Open and French Open already in 2021, Djokovic is the firm favourite at Wimbledon, but there were a few uncertain moments on Centre Court.
Playing on a fresh surface with the roof on made conditions difficult and seven-time Major winner Wilander was worried by what he saw.
“Obviously it has to do with the court being very green,” the Swede told Eurosport.
“It was obviously very tricky, very difficult to stand up and not slip around.
“The practice courts are much browner as they have been played on a lot more. But I also think it has to do with the game getting a little bit faster all the time.
“The players have less time to react, and therefore they are pushing off.
“Both players were slipping quite a bit and that is obviously a concern for the future of grass-court tennis.
“Do we need bigger spikes on the shoes? I don’t know what to do.
“What Novak and Roger [Federer] and Rafa [Nadal] are so good at is the early goings in the second set.
“It doesn’t matter to them if they have lost or won the prior set, and he came out and served a lot better. It tells me that the serve for Djokovic on grass is key.”
Djokovic is aiming to draw level with Federer and Nadal on 20 Grand Slam titles by winning for the sixth time at Wimbledon.
Having won the last two tournaments, in 2018 and 2019, he is also follow in the footsteps of Federer, Bjorn Borg and Pete Sampras by winning three successive titles in south west London.